Not free to speak

From Arutz Sheva, a story to bear in mind when you hear a certain European leader going on about Israel:

Which country has the most free speech violations?

European Court of Human Rights reveals the Council of Europe state that again leads the pack in violating freedom of expression.

The European Court of Human Rights’s (ECHR) annual report, released on Thursday, revealed that in 2015 Turkey led the Council of Europe member states with the highest number of violations of freedom of expression.

Of the 28 cases in 2015 in which a violation of freedom of expression was determined, ten of them were committed by Turkey according to the report as cited by the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News. The closest after Turkey was France, with three rulings against it.

I wonder how much of the French violations were driven by bad decisions following earlier terror attacks. Hopefully they will get back on track.


While Turkey led in terms of freedom of expression violations, Russia outpaced it in terms of the total number of violations, putting Turkey in second place.

Highlighting the freedom of expression problem in Turkey was a case last December in which courts called up experts to decide if a doctor should get jail time for comparing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Gollum from The Lord of the Rings – the doctor had already been expelled from the Public Health Institution of Turkey in October for sharing the images comparing the two.

Turkey is not new to violating freedoms of expression. Back in 2014, the country committed more such violations that the rest of the Council of Europe states combined, being responsible for 24 of a total 47 violations.

Aside from freedom of expression, Turkey is also not granting the right to a fair trial according to the findings. Of a total of 120 Turkish violations in 2015, 20 were over the right to a fair trial.

The report found that the right to a fair trial was in fact the issue with the highest percentage of violations among the member states, standing at just under 25% of all violations.

While Turkey is second behind Russia in terms of violations in 2015, it is ranked first place in terms of all violations determined by the ECHR since it was first established in 1959.

Turkey committed a whopping 3,182 violations since 1959 according to the report, with Italy coming in second at 2,336, and Russia third with 1,720.

People in glass houses?

Time for Turkey?

Recent media reports suggest the rift between Israel and Turkey is on the way to being mended.

Israel Hayom has this:

Turkey says agreement with Israel not finalized yet

“We are working on a draft. There is no doubt that the Israeli state and its people are friends of Turkey. The criticism we have made so far has been about Israel’s extreme behaviors that we don’t deem as legitimate,” says ruling party spokesman.

A spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said on Sunday that a deal to normalize relations with Israel, including the return of ambassadors to both countries, has not been finalized yet.

Speaking at news conference in the capital Ankara, AKP spokesman Omer Celik said both sides were working on a draft document to reach a final deal.

According to the report:

Israel and Turkey have reached a preliminary agreement to normalize relations, including the return of ambassadors to both countries, officials from both countries said earlier this week.

So far, so good.

“Turkey has three precise conditions for normalizing ties: an apology, compensation and the lifting of an embargo on Gaza,” Celik said.

“Our first condition is fulfilled, but the remaining two have not been met yet. Therefore, our people should know we have no doubt that this draft will be shaped within these parameters.

“A deal has not been signed yet. Talks will continue until an agreement is finalized. During this period, we will observe whether these three conditions are met or not. This will be our requirement.”

As proof that I would have been a poor diplomat, I don’t agree with the need to apologize. It seems to me that Turkey is the one that should be apologizing, for joining in the incitement against Israel. And, I would be telling them to take their compensation claim to a place where the sun doesn’t shine.

But the real puzzler for me is this:

“…the lifting of an embargo on Gaza…”

Israel cannot agree to this – not as matters stand. Perhaps it depends how you define embargo. Perhaps what Israel has in mind is putting Fatah forces in charge on the other side. Perhaps this is all empty talk. But, if Turkey is truly going to insist on an end to the embargo, there surely cannot be any hope for restoring diplomatic relations with Turkey.

The need to grow up

Given the abuse Israel and its leaders take from the Turkish establishment – especially in recent years – the following comes as a surprise:

From Globes:


The article says:

“As countries, there will always be a love-hate relationship between us and Israel. What’s important, however, is that business connects people, and we don’t let the bad people around interfere with our mission: to be always the preferred option for Israeli passengers. We’re very proud of our route, and we want to continue giving good service and a successful product that will make Israelis choose us,” said Turkish Airlines VP Ziya Taskent in response to a “Globes” question about his personal opinion on the prolonged diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey.

Bad people? Whoever could he mean?

Meantime, this type of commercial activity reflects the disconnect between the shrieks of BDS from the madding crowd, compared with the continual investment that foreign businesses make in Israel. People want to do business with Israel. They want our custom. They want our technology. They want our entrepreneurial skills. They want to create something positive, and investing in Israel offers that, and more.

What Israel has achieved in the short time since its modern reestablishment is a miracle. The surrounding Arab world should hang its respective heads in shame. Whatever the issues, the handicaps, or the challenges, with the right application they could all have been overcome. (No, not overnight,. And there is this wee requirement for hard work.) Instead their apparent focus is on maintaining dictatorial regimes by channeling hate and intolerance, rather than spreading life, liberty, and freedom, dooms them to be the failed states they are.

The religious extremists of ISIS (or whatever the current label is) behave as if they are acting out a nightmare best described as murderous lunatics having taken over the asylum.

[Aside: are ISIS nothing to do with Islam? They sure seem to say otherwise.]

If there is ever going to be peace in this part of the world, our neighbors will first collectively have to took a good, long, hard look at themselves and realize where they are, and how far they are from progress unless they change their whole approach.

To put it more simply, they need to grow up.

Turkey’s not ready

From the Jerusalem Post:

ANKARA/ISTANBUL – Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan declared victory in local polls that had become a referendum on his rule and said he would “enter the lair” of enemies who have accused him of corruption and leaked state secrets.

“They will pay for this,” he said.

It doesn’t sound like Mr Erdogan has quite grasped some of the essentials of modern democracy, like separation of the state and the judiciary. And the responsibility of the elected party for all constituents, not just their supporters. It doesn’t sound like Turkey deserves to be called a modern democracy.

This Turkey is not ready.